Feb. 7, 2022

Amir Locke

Amir Locke

On this episode of Intelligence Is Dope, I’ll be discussing no-knock warrants, and the killing of Amir Lock.


Don’t judge a story by the chapter you walked in on. Peace


Elly: [00:00:00] Later this month on February 26, it would be 10 years since the murder of Trayvon Martin. Trayvon's death sparked a generation to fight for social justice and accountability for social inequalities, but then what happened? Well, the killing of unarmed black people at the hands of police started to be recording. Now I know that the famous words of Gil Scott Heron says that the revolution will not be televised, but not only is it being televised, it's being tweeted and livestreamed. I'm Elly and on this episode of Intelligence Is Dope. I'm going to be talking about another killing in the city where George Floyd was killed. Will be discussing. Amir lock.[00:01:00] 

 Next month on March 13th, it will be two years since the killing of Brianna Taylor in my home state of Kentucky. In that case, a lot of people around the country heard about the use of no-knock warrants for the very first time. But let me explain quickly what a no-knock warrant is. This is a warrant that authorizes police officers to enter certain premises without first knocking and announcing their presence or the purpose prior to entering a premises.

These warrants are issue where entry following the knock and announce rule would lead to the destruction of the objects for which police are searching for, or would compromise the [00:02:00] safety of the police or other individuals. The knock and announce rule is where the police don't immediately force their way into a residence.

Instead they knock, identify themselves as police and the purpose of being there. Now, according to the Department of Justice, pertaining to no knock warrants. Officers need to take affirmative steps to make an independent re verification of the circumstances already recognized by a magistrate in issuing a no knock warrant.

Such a warrant does not entitle officers to disregard reliable information. Clearly negating the existence of exigent circumstances when they actually receive such information about execution of the warrant. So with that context, let's talk about the killing of Amir Locke. In the early morning hours [00:03:00] of Wednesday, February 2nd, Minneapolis police place a key into our apartment door.

They unlock and burst in the doorway, yelling police search warrant. As police enter they have a small kitchen to the right and the back of a couch in front of them. One of the officers walk up to kick the couch where a 22 year old,Amir Locke was sleeping. As a mirror's awaking and rolls over. He is holding a gun that comes from underneath the blanket.

Nine seconds after entering the apartment, Amir was shot and killed. The body cam footage has been released, and if you're interested, you can find it anywhere online. Now there isn't much known about the search warrant. Here's what we do know. The warrant and the underlying affidavit, were related to January St. Paul Minnesota murder case. [00:04:00] According to a source of the NBC news affiliate,KARE, in Minneapolis. Judge Peter Cahill who was the judge for the Derek Chavez case is the same judge that signed off on this no knock warrant. I know some listeners may be wondering why Minneapolis is involved, if this was for a crime committed in a neighboring city of St. Paul. It's very common that police departments assist each other, especially if they have information that a possible suspect may be within the jurisdiction of another department. But here's where things get difficult. St. Paul police released a statement stating that they did not request a no-knock warrant from a judge.

But when Minneapolis police were asked to execute the warrant. MPD insisted that the warrant be changed to authorize it, to be executing without first knocking. Now, if you have the time I recommend going on [00:05:00] YouTube or Google and finding the Thursday night press conference, where a Mayor Jacob Frey, and Interim Police Chief, Amelia Huffman, attempted to answer questions about the killing. 

At that conference, Chief Huffman told reporters that both a no knock and a knock search warrant or obtained so the SWAT team could assess the circumstances and make the best possible decision. Chief Huffman then gives a play by play stating that the gun was pointed at one of the officers. 

During this press conference, local civil rights attorney and co-chair to the City's Commission on Community Safety, Nekima Armstrong interrupted the chief and the mayor demanding answers about why a no knock warrant was needed in the first place. And her words were so powerful impact that I'm going to play a clip of what she said exactly.

Nakima: Well, hold on. [00:06:00] Hold on, Chief Huffman. No, no, do not. Okay. I'm not a threat. I don't have a gun. Okay. Don't treat me like I'm a threat. This is what I would call the anatomy of a coverup. This is unacceptable. I'm sorry. It is. When I agreed, to work with you on the work group, we talked about the importance of transparency and accountability.

And here, what we are seeing is business as usual. And you know this Amelia, you know this, Jacob, I don't know how you guys slept that night. I couldn't sleep at night. Tears from a mother's perspective, thinking about what happened. I saw the picture of Amir it looks like a boy. My son is 17 years old. He has slept on his friend's couches for sleepovers.

So we cannot sit here and whitewash this and pretend that it's okay. You knew that I was not going to [00:07:00] stand for police violence and a push for accountability. Yet you asked me to be a part of the work group, and I knew what I thought I was signed up for. This isn't what I signed up for. I understand if you're not comfortable having me continue to co-chair that's your provocative, I signed up to help bring recommendations.

Cause we're tired of being killed. We're tired of the coverups. We're tired of the excuses. And to high behind the St. Paul police department. The deadliest police force in the state of Minnesota is unacceptable. You all had no business agreeing to carry out a warrant, and now you're claiming that's part of their investigation.

You don't know what, why the hell did you all sign up to do this in the first place? There was a homicide that happened at one something in the morning on Hennepin avenue, someone was killed and then the person drove away in the black SUV. There's still that large in Minneapolis potentially a threat to residents, but you all go do something for St. Paul police. And now you're [00:08:00] trying to hide behind that decision. It's not acceptable. We are ready for change. When the people voted. To reelect you, Jacob. They not only showed that they wanted to see and new leader, right? Not saying you're not the person who got reelected, you got reelected. But what they were expecting is a new beginning.

That's why they gave you more power and authority. So that is what we want to see as the residents of Minneapolis. We don't want to see coverups. We don't want to see white washing. People are asking very simple questions that are still not been answered. Amelia you're saying you want to be the chief, then act like it. Demonstrate integrity.

Don't cover up for what those cops did. If they knew that the kid had a gun, as he started waking up, say, drop your weapon. They didn't do that. One cop opened fire and took the life of a child who was trying to go back into his blanket. Any mom can see what happened there. So I [00:09:00] can't tolerate the whitewash.

And I'm sorry, y'all we can't do this. I know you have your narrative. I know you have your script. I know you guys didn't personally go shoot somebody, but you do have the opportunity to make it right. To talk about the fact that you changed the no-knock warrant policy. Where's the evidence of that, that wasn't present on what happened to Amir Locke.

So if I'm going to be the co-chair of this group, I'm expecting strong leadership. I'm expecting integrity and I'm expecting accountability. You guys, aren't going to waste my goddamn time. And I don't care what you guys have your security, trying to stop me. You, I can be used to come speak the truth about what needs to happen, but when it's time to call out these inconsistencies, these in accuracies, the lack of information I got to sit in the back and or even not even be invited, I'm not here for it.

We fought too long, too hard as people in jail, including Cortez Rice trying to get the court, to [00:10:00] show what's happening in the courtroom so people can see what's going on. People have put their lives on the line cause we're ready for change. So we're expecting from this point forward for you guys to do something different, I'm not playing, we're not here for it.

We're not here for it. I'm only committed to working on this work group. If you all are committed to being honest and transparent and not covering up the bullshit. 

Elly: Shortly after this exchange, the public affairs officer ended the press conference. And the mayor and chief walked out without answering any further questions. Mayor Frey has placed a moratorium on the use of the no-knock warrants. He stated that he and police leadership will review and revise the department's policy with the help of two experts who helped shape Brianna's law in the state of Kentucky. But my confusion in this is, in the two years since the death of Brianna Taylor and Minneapolis being the city where George Floyd was murdered and the city that [00:11:00] became the epicenter of police reform. You didn't have any type of policy review or understanding that your city still was executing these types of warrants?

You would think that Minneapolis would strive to be the epitome of policing and police reform, but it took for another tragedy for you to act. Reform has to stop being reactive and must be proactive. Amir's parents, Andre Locke and Karen Wells spoke at an event Friday evening. Karen stated that her son was respectful including to police. And that the couple has coached their son on how to act and to do whatever is needed when a countering the police because of the danger, to unarmed black males. She stated that my son was executed on two, two of 22, and now his dreams have been destroyed. Andre Locke stayed in our Saturday that he wanted to start with 22 days of peace, [00:12:00] 22 days for each year of Amir's life. Andre stated that I want y'all to stand together. We have to start somewhere. Y'all don't hurt each other in your own communities.

I want you to remember Amir was not the subject to this search warrant. This wasn't a criminal. This was a kid just starting his life. I'm a dad. I have a daughter in college, a daughter entering high school and a son soon entering middle school. A parent should never have to think about burying the child, especially at the hands of the people who should be protecting them.

I'm a gun owner. I sleep with a gun next to me. I'm also a veteran and I know many of them who sleep with guns besides them, underneath their pillows, or even on their chest. There should be no question of why he had a gun. He had a legally owned gun because he illegally [00:13:00] could. Stop victim blaming. Anytime it's a black person's life that's taken.

I know plenty of white gun owners who sleep the same way. So I want you to imagine gun or no gun, you're asleep, taking a nap, whatever that someone enters your home and all you hear is yelling and bright lights in your face. Will you be able to follow commandsexactly? Would you remain completely still and comply or would you roll over to see what was going on?

Would you be in the right mind after being woke up and be able to state sir, I have a weapon and I do not attend to use it. Can I put it on the ground? Half of you jump almost to the ceiling when your alarm clock goes off in the morning. Even the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus released a statement, and we know so often these groups don't speak out on the behalf of black people.

In their own statement. And I quote, [00:14:00] "As seen in the body-worn camera video released by Minneapolis police. Mr. Locke appears to be sleeping on the couch during the execution of a no knock warrant. He is a woken with a confusing array of commands coming from multiple officers who are pointing lights and firearms at him.

Mr. Locke did what many of us might do on the same confusing circumstances? He reached for a legal means of self-defense while he sought to understand what was happening. Mr. Locke was not a suspect in the crime for which the warrants were issued. And was not named at all in the search warrant. The tragic circumstances of Mr. Lock's death were completely avoidable. It's yet another example where a no knock warrant has resulted in the death of an innocent person. In this case, as another's the public should expect and receive full transparency and accountability from law enforcement agencies that serve and protect our [00:15:00] local communities.

Amir Locke a lawful gun owner should still be alive. Black men, like all citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. Black men, like all citizens have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against a reasonable search and seizure." End quote. So really think about what would you do in this instance, or would you find yourself shot on the couch and dying? Not knowing why. 

In all honesty, the officer that shot Amir is probably legally going to be cleared from this. So justice in that form may not come to the family of Amir Locke.. It has to play out in the legal system. We just don't know. But as we hope for after the murder or Brianna Taylor, maybe justice can come in the form of policy and law changes.

 Time and [00:16:00] time again, no knock warrants are proven to be dangerous for everyone involved. It's easy to Monday morning quarterback and think about the what if's. What if they had knocked on allowed Amir to come to the door. What if Amir was given the opportunity to wake up and get his bearings, but that opportunity wasn't given to him.

And so often it seems that those opportunities are not given to black and brown people. As you think about that, I want to leave today's podcast with a quote from Andre Locke. He states. "We've seen this time and time again, watching the situation with a Ahmad Arbery, Dante Wright, George Floyd, and our hearts go out to those families.

We've been prepping our boys for years to always obey the law every day. It's not a regular conversation that some white households have. It's too many of us in our communities [00:17:00] that are dealing with this. It's too many. in our communities that continue to deal with this same type of harassment. It's so unfortunate that this has happened again. And now it hit home. It hurts. He was responsible. He didn't deserve to have this life taken from him the way that it was. Why couldn't my son bury me? 

Thank you for listening to another episode of the Intelligence Is Dope. Don't forget to like, subscribe, and comment. And as always, don't judge the story by the chapter you walked in on.

Peace .